By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
When Portales churches banded together to help the 100-plus people laid off after Sunland Inc. filed for bankruptcy in October, local pastor Brad Morgan said the $7.60 donation of one 10-year-old boy spoke volumes of the community’s giving spirit.
It was a reminder that no donation is too small Morgan told a crowd of donors and volunteers of United Way of Eastern New Mexico on Tuesday at the organization’s annual banquet.
“We didn’t make the loss of their jobs easy, but advocating for them, we made the transition possible,” said Morgan to the crowd of nearly 100 in Eastern New Mexico University’s Campus Union Ballroom.
United Way was a leader in organizing the churches’ efforts to support the struggling employees of Sunland, one of the many actions the organization took last year to support the communities of Roosevelt and Curry counties.
Tuesday the organization thanked the companies and individuals in both counties whose donations or volunteerism made those actions possible.
In 2013, $567,000 in community donations were collected, funding agencies including the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, Arise Sexual Assault Services, the Hartley House, and the Meals on Wheels programs of Clovis and Portales.
Of the many donors in the room, retired Clovis Media Inc. Publisher Ray Sullivan was recognized by UWENM Executive Director Erinn Burch for his commitment to the group since he made this area his home.
“Ray and Bev (Sullivan’s wife) came to our community only 14 years ago and made eastern New Mexico their home, a home where they lived and worked and gave back,” said Burch. “In the United Way office whenever disaster strikes in our area, across the country or around the world, Ray and Bev are the first to donate to the recovery cause through United Way.”
Sullivan said Morgan’s story of the boy’s monetary donation to the Sunland employees shows how much power individuals have in giving.
“That’s power, that’s truly power.” Sullivan said. “As a libertarian, I believe in helping, not handouts.”
The organization highlighted the three actions it takes to make United Way work; Giving, advocacy and volunteering.
With Morgan touching on the importance of advocacy, ENMU President Gamble talked about why it’s important to give.
Gamble said people give because they can.
“You’ll feel so good about what you’ve done. You will, I promise,” Gamble said.
He urged the crowd to making giving a priority.
“You prioritize other things, you should prioritize giving,” Gamble said. “Supporting your neighbor, that’s the best reason to give.”